This wasn't how it was meant to be. She was a warrior. She was meant to go down in a fight. She glanced up at the sky, glaring at fate for the cruel twist. An outlaw captured by outlaws. It was disgraceful. Since Robin's exodus into the woods, people had come to associate the term with good things. Outlaws stole from the rich. Outlaws gave to the poor. Outlaws fought against the Sheriff.
People had forgotten that there were other kinds of outlaws. Outlaws that were just that: outlaws. She supposed that they were the same in a way. They both lived in the woods. They both stole. The difference was that the outlaws that had gathered around her weren't interested in helping the poor, just themselves. Little John had told her that his old gang had been like that before Robin came. She always saw a tinge of shame in the man's eyes when he talked about it. She didn't know why. He had the goodness in his heart to change.
Even with Robin's example, the men that gathered around her now were low and disgusting. One of them, the largest and most smelly, and therefore the likely leader, stepped forward, holding his sword to her neck. The feel of steel being pressed against her neck wasn't wholly unfamiliar, and that, she reflected, was a bit sad.
"You've not got any money," he grunted thickly. She didn't roll her eyes, though the temptation was certainly there. No use in angering the stupid buffoon.
"I did say that, didn't I?" she asked, keeping her tone neutral. She'd used the tone so many times before that it came naturally to her. Every time that she had marched into the council of nobles with her father. Every time that Guy of Gisborne had tried to court her. Every time that she had tried to deny her feelings for Robin. She was glad that those days were over.
"What's a dainty, little lady like you doing in the woods anyway?" One of the other outlaws asked. She couldn't very well say that she was with Robin Hood's gang; it would certainly lead to trouble.
"I was walking," she answered in that same, level tone. Inside, she was slowly becoming outraged. She was not dainty. She was not little. Where was Robin? What was taking him so long? She didn't like thinking like that. She didn't like waiting around to be saved, but she didn't exactly have a choice.
"Oy, David! There's two more of them wandering down the North Road!" Someone called, running up to the group. David, the largest and most smelly, turned, removing the sword from her throat. He looked between the man that had run up to them and the woman that he had tied to a tree.
"Alright then. Everyone with me. 'Cept you, Hollis. Stay here and make sure that she doesn't leave," he ordered, scampering off to the North Road. One of the smaller members of the gang sniffled as he watched them go, wiping his nose o the back of his sleeve. He was much younger than the rest of the outlaws, though every bit as dirty.
"Don't you try anything," he warned, though she could tell his heart wasn't in it.
"Why are you running around with them?" she hadn't really meant to ask the question, but it had tumbled out anyway. She was getting downright sick of potentially decent people squandering their lives with bad company. The boy standing by her now couldn't have been older than fifteen. His mousy, brown hair stuck up at seemingly impossible angles, and his hazel eyes shifted between his captive and the forest floor.
"Protection," he mumbled finally. "My parents both died when I was little. David, the bigger one from before, is my cousin."
"That's no reason to follow him into the woods and terrorize people," she reprimanded. The boy looked down, as if he was used to this sort of scolding. Her glare softened, and she mustered half of a smile.
"Your name is Hollis?" he nodded, keeping his head down. "My name is Marian." At this admission, his eyes widened, and he looked up to get a better look at his captive. Even though he'd been living in the woods, he'd heard of the kind, compassionate Lady Marian.
"I'm so sorry, milady," he apologized, stooping in a sort of bow. He quickly checked to make sure the rest of his gang wouldn't come back anytime soon before his fingers flew over the knots of the rope, untying her.
"What are you doing?" Marian asked.
"I've heard about you. You're not like one of those other nobles that just walks around like the poor don't exist. You don't deserve whatever David's going to cook up," he mumbled, constantly checking to make sure the gang wasn't coming back.
"Won't you be punished?" Marian asked, rubbing at her wrists. Hollis shrugged.
"Wouldn't be the first time," he managed. Marian glanced around before making up her mind.
"Come with me," she offered. Hollis stopped short, staring at her.
"What?" he asked.
"Come with me," she repeated. "You said that you're part of this gang for protection. Come join my gang. We can protect you." Hollis didn't know what to do. It occurred to Marian that perhaps he'd never been treated with such kindness. There was a sneering quality in the way that David had commanded him that came across as neither warm nor caring.
"Marian!" Robin's voice came out of nowhere, startling her. He stepped from behind a tree, Will and Much following him, weapons at the ready. "Are you alright?" Marian nodded, gently taking the boy by the wrist.
"Robin, this is Hollis. He was going to free me," she introduced. "Hollis, this is Robin Hood."
"Bloody hell!" Hollis gasped. He turned a bright red and placed a hand over his mouth. "Sorry, milady. I didn't mean… Only… Robin Hood, himself!" Robin grinned widely. He never got tired of the way people reacted when first meeting him.
"Hollis, thank you very much for helping Marian," he said, putting a hand on his shoulder. "Marian, we've got to go."
"Robin, I need to speak to you," Marian beckoned, pulling him off to the side. Hollis gulped, waving nervously at the two other men. The man on the right, the shorter of the two, nodded in acknowledgement, nervously shifting his weight from one foot to the other. The man on the left merely stared back at him, giving a minute nod that Hollis could've imagined.
"My name's Hollis," he said slowly, his voice shaking a bit. Much smiled. It was good to know that living in the woods hadn't robbed the boy of all of his manners.
"I'm Much," he replied, sending a look of confusion across the younger man's face.
"I don't mean to be rude, but you're… you don't really look like much. I mean, you're not very tall or anything," Hollis stumbled over his words. Much didn't know whether to laugh or be offended.
"That's his name," the man on the left corrected gently. "Mine's Will."
"We can't just let everyone join the gang," Robin whispered. "I'm grateful that he was willing to help you, but we can't just welcome him into the gang. We don't know anything about him."
"We don't have to keep him at the camp. We could secure a safe place for him. Kirklees? Scarborough? Leicester? It would only be for a few days, Robin. He deserves a chance at a life outside of the woods," Marian argued, glancing back at the teenager, who seemed to be carrying a conversation with Much and Will. More accurately, Much was carrying the conversation, and Will and Hollis were occasionally nodding.
Robin licked his top lip, as he had a tendency to do when thinking. He nodded with a sigh.
"Yeah, alright," he muttered. Marian hugged him gratefully.
"Come on, then. We've got to hurry before his cousin's gang comes back," she ushered.
Hollis could hardly believe what was happening. One day, he was fighting it out with an unruly gang of men for a bit of undercooked rabbit. The next, he was wandering off with Robin Hood and his gang. He didn't feel a bit bad about leaving his cousin's gang. David had actually threatened him into joining. He shook his head. Lady Marian had told him that she was going to make arrangements to send him a safe place, where he could have a normal life.
Hollis smiled. He'd like that very much. He had always wanted to be a brave knight, maybe a Crusader, like his father had been, but after the few weeks he'd spent in the forest, he figured that a normal job, like blacksmith or carpenter, would be nice. He didn't want to seem overly-eager, though. The last thing he wanted was for Robin Hood to think he was childish. Still, when they removed the blindfold, revealing that he was now standing in the middle of their camp, he couldn't help but stare in amazement.
"Welcome to the camp, Hollis," Marian smiled. Robin watched the teenager. The boy reminded him of Daniel, wide-eyed with wonder. At the same time, Hollis had maturity that Daniel did not. Hollis smiled sheepishly, becoming aware of the fact that he was gawking.
"This is a proper camp," he commented, trying to keep the excitement from his voice.
"Hollis, that is Djaq," Robin introduced, pointing out the Saracen healer, who waved. "And that is Little John." Robin didn't feel the need to point out Little John. He tended to get noticed. "Djaq, Little John, this is Hollis. He'll be staying with us for a few days."
"Hello, Hollis," Djaq smiled pleasantly. Little John, like Much and Will, settled for a simple nod of greeting.
"Hello," he replied, still trying to keep his voice level and calm.
"Where's Morgan?" Robin asked. Little John rolled his eyes and shrugged.
"Not back yet. Your guess is as good as mine," he sighed. Robin took this information in stride, hoping that she hadn't gotten lost. Again. One day, he was going to have to draw a map for her.
"You'll meet Morgan later. For now, just get settled. Dinner should be ready soon," Robin instructed with a grin. Hollis nodded. Robin was a much nicer leader than David.
"What happened to them, if you don't mind my asking?" Much inquired, sopping up the soup in his bowl with some bread. Hollis had spent most of dinner telling the outlaws about his life. How he'd grown up in Treeton. How his father had been a miner, until the Crusades.
"My dad went to the Crusades. He died in Messina, I think. My mum was carried off by sickness not too long after. I've been running with David and his lot for a couple of months now," he explained, using the silence afterwards to spoon soup into his mouth, glad that it wasn't undercooked meat.
"So, do you have any interest in being a miner?" Djaq asked, "It is a dangerous profession." Hollis gave a sort of laugh.
"King Richard could come back and say that he'd make me his heir, and I still wouldn't go into that death trap. My friend Rowan's father and uncle both died because of it," he muttered, shaking his head. "No, mining's not for me. I'd much rather do something else. Maybe I'll be a blacksmith or a carpenter."
"Really? You know, Hollis, Will's a carpenter. He designed and built this camp," Djaq mentioned. Will nodded, trying not to blush as Djaq bragged about him. Hollis gave Will a grin of admiration, glancing around at the camp.
"OY!" the shout surprised everyone as the camp opened. Hollis stared as a woman ran in, jumping excitedly and flailing her arms. "Come on! Come quick!"
"Where have you been?" Much asked. The woman shook her head, continuing to point and jump and flail.
"Not important! Hurry! Shipment! Gold! North Road!" she gasped, dashing back out of the camp. The outlaws went into motion immediately. Hollis stared after the woman before looking to Will.
"Will, who was that?" he asked. Will briefly glanced up, following the boy's gaze out of camp before returning his attention to securing his axe at his waist.
"That was Morgan. She's," Will paused, searching for a word. Bizarre? Odd? Like a squirrel? "She's Morgan." He finally decided. "Come on, then. We're moving." Hollis followed the carpenter out of the camp, picking through the forest, on a path that led to the Great North Road.
Will caught up with Morgan, who was crouching behind a large rock, waiting impatiently. Hollis didn't mean to eavesdrop, but he caught snippets of their conversation anyway.
"Where is it?" Will asked, peering down the road.
"Coming," Morgan replied, tapping her fingers on the top of the rock.
"Did you pass it on the way?" Will asked curiously. Morgan didn't answer right away.
"A little bird told me," she finally replied with a grin.
"A little Allan bird?" Will asked slyly, nudging her. Morgan's grin widened.
"Seriously, Morgan, Robin's not going to keep believing that you're getting lost," Will sighed, shaking his head.
"Relax, Will. If Robin finds out, he finds out," she said casually, turning to face the carpenter, consequentially facing Hollis. "Who's this?"
"My name's Hollis, milady," he said as politely as he knew how, bowing his head slightly. For a moment, he thought he'd done it incorrectly, as Morgan had started sniggering. She put a hand on his shoulder, smiling.
"My name's Morgan. Just Morgan. None of that 'milady' stuff," she greeted. Will nodded in agreement.
"Yeah, she's not a lady," he said seriously. Morgan returned her gaze to the road for a second before she worked out what Will had implied. She playfully punched him in the shoulder.
"Very funny, Will," she smirked. "Look, here it comes!" Surely enough, a cart was making its way down the road, surrounded by a handful of guards, carrying torches that cast light down the path. Morgan looked ready to move, but Will mechanically put a hand on her shoulder.
"Wait for the signal," he reminded softly. Hollis quietly cleared his throat.
"What should I do?" he asked. Will glanced back at him, thinking for a minute.
"Stay with Morgan," he replied. Hollis tried not to smile, sneaking a glance at her.
"Not a problem," he muttered under his breath.
And there's chapter one! This story will have a lot more Robin and Marian in it, and therefore more RobinMarian in it. I feel I've been neglecting them a bit.
Hope you guys enjoy! Please review and stuff!